Laying Low in Paradise
The Casteloria Series
Kristy K. James
Number of pages: 191
Word Count: 56,661
Cover Artist: Vila Design
He's hiding out because someone wants him dead...
Cameron Rafferty is keeping secrets. Dangerous secrets that could endanger the lives of everyone around him. His plan was simple...keep a low profile until the would-be-killer was found. And it was working - until an accident changed everything. Before he knows it, he finds himself becoming more involved with the family next door, and wishing for things he shouldn't. Things that will put their lives in jeopardy, too.
Her summer plans didn't include secrets and danger...
Spending summers on Bois Blanc Island was a tradition for author Laura Keane and her young son. Filled with special memories of the husband she'd lost to war, she looked forward to days of reminiscing, playing, and working on her newest novel. She didn't expect this year to be any different - but that was before their sexy neighbor came to her rescue like a knight in shining armor. Will that armor be tarnished when she finds out what he is and why he's living next door?
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“Sometimes I wish I could just wiggle my nose or nod my head,” Laura Keane sighed, pulling into the parking spot that would be home to her seven-year-old Jeep Cherokee for most of the summer. “The traffic was brutal – and it’s not even a holiday.”
“Well, I know you know how to nod your head, but I don’t know how that, or wiggling your nose, could have helped,” twelve-year-old Sam said vaguely.
A quick glance his way, and Laura couldn’t hold back a grin. Even before the words left his mouth, he was throwing the passenger door open and scanning the marina for the boat, her references to Jeannie and Samantha already a memory.
Since heading out from Lansing at six that morning, Sam had been anxious for the long drive to be over. Not many boys on the brink of becoming a teenager would look forward to a summer of relative solitude on Bois Blanc Island. But every year he couldn’t wait to arrive, and then he dragged his heels when it was time to head back home for the school year.
Of course, some of his best and happiest moments with Jake had taken place on that little stretch of beach, so that probably explained his enthusiasm. Even though she’d had several videos of their family burned to a DVD, sometimes she was afraid that he would forget the father who had loved him so very much. Maybe Sam was afraid he would, too.
“There it is!” he exclaimed, yanking the back door open. “Mr. Benton has it ready for us.”
Rather than pointing out the fact that she paid Mr. Benton well to not only store the boat, but to have it ready for them when they needed it, Laura opened her door, taking a moment to savor the familiar sights, sounds and smells before she got out.
Gulls soared overhead, screeching as they circled above the beach, on the lookout for the tourists who kept them supplied with pieces of sandwiches and other treats. Waves lapping up on shore, the brisk breeze blowing in across Lake Huron. She couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place on earth to spend a long, relaxing vacation.
“Hey, Mom! C’mon. Help out a little here, huh?” Sam asked impatiently.
Laura quickly exited the jeep and pulled a couple of suitcases from the back, while her son loaded himself down with plastic grocery bags.
“We don’t have to get it all in one trip,” she reminded him.
“No, but the quicker we load the boat, the quicker we can get home,” he said logically.
“Just don’t hurt yourself.”
They hurried down to the dock, depositing the first batch of supplies in the boat before heading back up for the rest of their gear.
“Good morning, Ms. Keane,” Henry Benton called from his lounge chair on the beach.
“Good morning, Mr. Benton. How are you today?”
“Couldn’t be better,” he assured her with a grin. “Need some help there?”
“Thanks but we’ve got it. It feels good to be moving around after that drive.” Henry Benton must be nearing seventy and, though he appeared to be in excellent health, Laura worried about him hauling anything heavier than his fishing pole.
“Couldn’t have picked a better day for it though. Clear as a bell since I got up this morning. Not a cloud in the sky.”
“Can’t argue with you there,” she said with a laugh, adding three of the seven bags of groceries to the boat. “Wish I could say the same thing about the freeway.”
“See a lot of clouds on the road, did you now?” Henry teased.
“Ha-ha.” She heard Sam snicker behind her. “I wish it had been clear, but there were about ten million cars, trucks, SUV’s, semis, and motorhomes. You name it, and they were on the road.”
“That’s true,” Sam laughed. “And they were all out there just to aggravate my mom.”
“That what she thinks?”
“Yup.” Both Henry and Sam had a good laugh over that, as the last of the groceries were removed from the Jeep. Laura locked it up, and they wandered back down to the dock.
“Do you know if anyone is occupying the other chalets yet?” she asked, stopping for a moment to chat with Henry.
“As a matter of fact, Ben Pommeroy was telling me just the other day that he rented all three of them for the whole summer. Looks like you and the boy will have neighbors.”
“I sure hope they’re quieter than that bunch from last year,” Laura muttered, shuddering at the thought of another invasion of college boys with a penchant for loud music and late night partying. It had been a solid month of hell on earth, and one she didn’t want to repeat.
“No worries there. Ben said they’re all adults and they seemed like good, respectful people.”
“Well that’s a relief.”
“He also said they’d liked to have rented your place, too. Said he was going to offer you ten thousand more than he did last year.” Laura shook her head when Sam’s gaze met hers.
“I’m afraid poor Ben is going to be disappointed again. The chalet is not, and never will be, for sale. It was nice seeing you, Henry.” She nodded toward the boat where Sam was drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. Henry grinned.
“Nice seeing you, too, Ms Keane. Safe trip. You get your satellite turned on?” Laura nodded. “You’ll be wanting to keep an eye on the weather station. They’re calling for a doozy of a storm system to move in around Thursday. You might want to get over here before it hits to stock up on some supplies.”
“If it gets bad, we’ll just make do with whatever we have on hand. If it lasts too long, Harpers will do in a pinch.”
Review - 3 Stars!
I loved the idea of secrets and danger and romance. It usually turns into a great read that keeps me coming back for more. The blurb and cover were great at attracting me as well.
Having said that, the characters weren't as deep as I would like. I am not sure, but I didn't connect much with anyone in the novel. It was decently written, had a good story, but something was a bit lacking. It took me a bit to get into the story and I did enjoy the read. I honestly.... can't say there were anything exactly negative about it except some of the issues the characters faced - or rather, their reactions to these issues, seemed very off to me. So I wasn't able to connect with a lot of what happened to the main players in the story.
However, the writing was decent, the plot seemed involved, although the climax of the story also felt a bit lacking to me. I did enjoy it, and I kept reading wanting to find out where it was going and how they were going to get there. So it was well-done. 3 stars!
Guest Post - Kristy's Chicken Stew
I heard something a long time ago, something that has stayed with me ever since. Write what you know.
Never has that piece of advice hit home more than when I wrote Reluctant Guardian and Enza. Both are set in the distant past, and to make it even more challenging, Guardian is set in South Carolina – a state I’ve never set foot in. Both stories required months of research, and since then, I’ve stuck with ‘what I know.’
And one of the things I know the best is me.
That means every major character in every story I’ve ever written has a part of me in them. Even the heroes. Whether it’s something I that scares me, things like my fear of heights, or my love of REO Speedwagon, a little bit of me winds up in each one of them.
In Laying Low in Paradise, Dr. Nolan Campbell advises Laura on the proper use of crutches, something I learned in crutch training (yes, it’s a real thing). Laura also makes one of my very favorite meals for hero, Cameron Rafferty.
I used to hate chicken stew, something my daughter loves beyond reason. But she likes it made with boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders. I’d make it a couple of times a month, but never enjoyed it – until I bought a new electric pressure cooker. One of the recipes was for something with chicken thighs and since I had some on hand, I decided to make the stew with that instead.
Good decision on my part. Now I love chicken stew – but my daughter still prefers it with the tenders, so I have to make a small batch of the yucky stew for her.
So I thought I’d share the recipe with you today. It can easily be made on the stovetop, so those are the instructions I’ll include. I’m not much for measuring, so these are approximate amounts, what I use every time.
Kristy’s Chicken Stew
8 chicken thighs (with skin)
8 potatoes, peeled (or not) and cubed
6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large carton chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 small pinch basil
Oil to barely cover bottom of large pan
Salt, to taste
Brown chicken thighs in oil. Add broth, bay leaf, salt, and basil. Simmer until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, strain broth, wipe out pan, and return broth. Add potatoes and carrots and simmer until almost done. While they’re cooking, carefully remove hot chicken from bone and add back to pan.
Dumplings –use the recipe on the biscuit mix box – or whatever your favorite recipe might be.
Drop heaping spoonsful of dough into boiling stew, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until done (stick a fork in a dumpling and if it’s dry, it’s done).
About the Author:
Kristy K. James' first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to investigate scary noises in yards just as dark as hers if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love...writing. Since then her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories, and looking for trouble in her kitchen.
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